Monday, September 10, 2012

2012 Chicago Half

Settle down, it'll be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear
The trouble, it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you're not alone,
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Everything in life has come full circle for me lately. I'm back in the place where my life started that I fled like a manic hostage 10 years ago ready to conquer my own path in life. Back then I traded the quiet discomfort of not-so-quaint homes with their perfectly manicured lawns and Pleasantville lives tended by flawless housewives which always made me feel drably ordinary for awe-inspiring skyscrapers and curious hipsters which tend to stir in urban spaces. My bohemian spirit found a warm peace within it's bizarre self to just be me on the Streets of Chicago, barefoot and unfiltered.

Taken at the Chicago Half Expo at Navy Pier on 9/8

Yet, here I sit in my new home with grossly blank white walls awaiting to be draped with the yet undiscovered memories of first homes adventures and boxes still full of our lives contents awaiting my attention in the exact city I escaped in horror from a decade prior. My entire adult life I've fought every urge to be grounded and settled while being married to a man that is kind enough to humor my impractical and stubborn ways patiently.

This year started with a foreshadowing of change. I set my sights high on pursing my passions, living out my dreams, and starting a family with my high school sweatheart. 28 was going to be the year that I built my coaching and personal training empire that was going to blow the minds of the doubtful, soar through the streets of Chicago effortlessly knocking out PR after PR like it was no big deal, and than become a speedy Momma Runner. My mind didn't plan for hiccups or speed bumps and instead let my heart flutter with how simply perfect things would unfold. I wouldn't need second or third chances because I had a full proof plan.

2012 was going to be the year of the mind-blowing half marathon PR

The PR that my tenacious heart was going to hunt down like a starving mountain lion stalking it's long awaited prey.

Yet, the theme of "you can't always get what you want" has been unmistakeably apparent in my life this year as things never pan out as planned. Those behemothly unassuming goals moving about in my small self that I've been most insistent on pursuing have turned out to be the exact things which have imperfectly ran their unfulfilled course. And yesterday's half was no exception.

I went. I saw. I ran. And I barfed. Twice.

The morning started out at the ugly hour of 4 am proceeding a restless night of sleep that left my stomach in unusual and unfamiliar knots. Chalking it up to nerves, I choked down a rather generous portion of oatmeal heavily sprinkled with cinnamon and drowning in bananas heading out of the house after prematurely ripping my sleepy husband from his peaceful slumber.

Legs felt on, rested and strong.
Mind felt relaxed.
Heart was ready.

Blowing kisses to the man early on. He's perfected the art of spectating.

After being in a tailspin with my finicky Garmin for weeks, which at this present time is out of order, the goal for this race became to "race not pace" through the finish. Clock time was irrelevant, all that held weight in my heart was enjoying my time back in Chicago racing my favorite distance healthy once again. Events of the last 5 months had made this moment seem far from possible and only allowed for an 8 week build up for this race that hosted maybe 4 semi-decent workouts. I basically felt like I was starting from scratch back in July where expectations of what 2012 was supposed to be was eaten alive by what actually was. Those insanely aggressive and hefty goals which seemed to trump a lot things in my life 10 months ago when I put them out there for all to know have had to temporarily move to the back burner a bit making room for logic and patience.

Thanks Charlyn for your support at mile 8

Going into this race I knew that a sub 1:25 finish was a long shot for my current fitness level and all that's happened for me this year. There are times to let yourself be intoxicated by the seductive allure of big hairy crazy goals, and there are other times when you have to ground yourself shining light on the realism of your situation. I've been with both feet steady on the ground for several months now where momentum is just starting to begin once again.

When the gun went off and my feet were once again reunited with the streets of Chicago, my soul felt a beautiful awakening that overshadowed the discomfort of my uneasy stomach that left a goofy grin on my face the entire race. I never felt as loved and blessed while running as I did yesterday. Breath controlled, the legs working in a steady rhythm with one another, the mind clear, it just all consumed my heart. So many supportive people, both those that I've come to know closely and those that I've yet to be blessed to know on a personal level, billowing from the depths of their lungs for Chicago Runner Girl to keep cruising along. Love comes in many forms, and yesterday brought a new kind of love to my life that was incredible to experience as the fortitude of my spirit was tested in a way it's never seen.

In the end, I was far off that sub 1:25 mark and instead hit a rather unusual vomiting PR for the day. By mile 4 I had to veer off to the side of LSD for a minute or two to relieve my stomach a bit when keeping my breakfast down became unavoidable. Even with the legs feeling more powerful than they've felt thus far this year, the stomach just wasn't going to have it. There was never a time when it felt settled enough to take in any type of fluids or fuels which made the last 5k nearly impossible to finish. Yet my smile never vanished and I chugged along with all that I had left despite how terrible my stomach felt. Somehow I managed to keep down what was left in me until exiting the finishing chute when the nausea became overwhelming and the medics pinned me as a potentially explosive finisher.

How fickle my heart, how woozy my eyes

Sprawling out in the grass post race having no idea what the clock read when I finished as I was in a drunken barftastic haze, the circle of the sub 1:25 conquest came to a close for 2012. It wasn't until this morning that I saw I finished in 1:29:42, a full 2 minutes off of my current PR and 20 seconds per mile away from goal pace.

Three chances and three strikes.

But I'm not out yet.
Not even close.

My feelings on goals are simple...set the bar high and jump in head first.

What sense would it make for every challenges outcome to produce a lavish victory and never experience defeat? To never be so outside of your comfort zone to have to question if you're on the right path and if the glory you're chasing down is worth the heartache? To get a pat on the back every time you make the safe decision or take the road less traveled?

I live for failure, discomfort, and short comings. Feeling like an ass through my imperfections has taught me more grace than any triumph ever will. I relish the ugly moments trying to find peace and beauty in them. And yesterday got pretty ugly as I was hunched over vomiting up my insides while my lips turned blue with the man looking on like it was normal at the finish. Abnormal has become our normal and we don't judge.

When one circle comes to a close, it's not too long before a new one is created and the possibilities of the future are fueled by more hopes and dreams. Don't quite know what that next circle ahead holds for me and my man, but I haven't given up hope. There will always be another race and another chance to try something that scares the mess out of me and life will simply go on.

And until that next chance appears, I'm holding on to the moment that my racing season of 2012 came to a bittersweet close leaving me thirsty for more. 


  1. 1:29 is incredible and I can't believe you were able to do that feeling the way that you did! You will get that PR really soon! I guess it all just has to fall into place and be that perfect day. You are an incredibly talented runner with a finishing time like this!! Congratulations!

  2. Fabulous race report -- so well written. 1:29 is amazing for an 8-week build-up. Keep building on this race and you will get that PR, no problem. I can totally identify with that race grin even though things aren't going as planned.

  3. I love how articulate you are. It made me feel like I was in your head thinking about things too. Nice job on the half!

  4. Wow. Just wow. A 1:29 is literally beyond my comprehension, especially considering how you were feeling. You looked great when Kim and I saw you along the course! I would have never, ever guessed what you were going through. Congratulations and way to push through!!!

  5. Ugh! You poor thing! It sounds like you still had a great race in your beloved city, despite the awful barfing and blue lips at the end.

  6. I saw you on the course running (not vomiting)! At the time, I was running north before the turnaround and you were running south after the turnaround. I even shouted encouragement over to you out of the mass of runners I was a part of. Sorry to hear you were so sick during the race, but you looked strong!

  7. ug I''m so sorry! You are still such a rockstar!!! Way to get it done! Inspirational!

  8. All the best runners puke during their halfs ;) You are a very talented runner and very talented writer. Keep up the good will pull you through.

  9. No doubt your PR will come! You still Friggin ROCK! Looks like you and I had a "Barftastic" race day yesterday:) Congratulations on getting it done - YOU ROCK!

  10. Congratulations on another half marathon completion! I am sorry you got sick but at least you finished!

  11. Holy cow! 1:29 is awesome!!! So sorry you got sick...what a bummer!!!!!

  12. 0h wow! I'm sorry you puked ugh poor thing. That still is an amazing time!

  13. eek! Sorry about getting sick- :( and I understand about big hairy goals. Still think you are a rock star at 1:29 with puking :)

  14. Wow! This is the happiest puking story I've ever read :)

    It's funny how we try to fight our roots. I remember leaving the south suburbs for the dorms at Loyola, and trying to be so cool about it all - "I don't even know if I'll come home for Thanksgiving." HA! How little I knew. Granted, being 30 and actually living with my parents isn't really my first choice, but, it's made me realize that there is nothing wrong with "going back home." It's familiar. And if you are surrounded by people you love, and who love you, it's wonderful.

  15. I'm sorry you didn;t get the PR you wanted and I;m really sorry you barfed. That totally sucks but you stilled kicked ass!!! GREAT JOB!!!!!

  16. An amazing time despite the barfing Britt. I love your last paragraph.

  17. I think it gets harder and harder to meet goals as we get faster. Obviously without barfing you would have run closer to your goal. Also, all those tough tempos you did are still in your legs, ready to get even faster and more consistent in the next training cycle. Great attitude Britt!

  18. You write one of the most beautiful blogs. I love how insightful and aware you are. I love how you learn and grow from every experience. Keep running and writing and living out your purpose.

  19. I love your writing style. So thoughtful and thought-provoking. You shouldn't be too hard on yourself...a time of 1:29 is incredible. I know it's not the time you were aiming for but please know what an inspiration you are to me and many, many other runners!

  20. I'm sorry you didn't meet you goal. I think you have a lot of talent but are extremely over-trained. A post dedicated to over-training and how to prevent it would be very helpful to a lot of readers and prevent them from falling into your trap. Blogging is a lot of "monkey see - monkey do" and I would hate for people not to learn from your experiences.

    1. Thank you Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, you are absolutely right and I've actually been working on a posting this past week that falls along these lines. I do think that there is a lot of "he/she is doing x so I have to do x too if I want to achieve my goals". I've tried to be open about how I beat the crap out of myself early on in the year where I'm still paying for it now, but maybe I haven't been clear enough about the havoc it's kind of wreaked on my body.

      Don't be anonymous next time! I know that I've made a lot of really shitty training decisions when it comes to myself this year, and I don't take offense to this criticism. Stupid is as stupid does where I'm just trying to learn from my mistakes and move forward.